Garber: Understanding snowfall and plants
March 3, 2012
What a difference a year makes. This year, the amount of snowfall in February broke the record and in some areas, we haven’t seen the ground for how long? What does all this snow mean, anyway?
This year, we’re probably off the hook for needing to do winter watering. If we have normal precipitation in March, trees and other plants will most likely be fine until irrigation systems are turned on.
Grass covered by snow for long periods is susceptible to snow mold – a fungus problem. Applying fungicides won’t cure the existing fungus, but it can keep fungus from spreading.
If you see problems in the lawn, call in a pro for an evaluation before applying any products. Depending on the problem, cultural means like aeration and proper watering may be all that is needed.
Hot, dry conditions invite turf mites, so even in our wet year, it’s important to monitor all turf that faces south or west, particularly on slopes. You may need to water these areas to keep moisture levels up and mites at bay.
Again this week, many more trees have hit the ground due to extremely high winds. The soil is soft due to all the moisture and this creates instability for trees assaulted by raging winds.
Evergreens, due to their dense foliage and in some cases more shallow root systems, are very susceptible to these conditions. If you are planting new trees this year, think about placement. The east side of a property, for example, is generally more protected from winds.
Deciduous trees, even without their leaves, can still blow over when wet soils and high winds create the perfect storm. Trees that have not had their crowns properly thinned, or trees that naturally have more branches and twigs, will be more susceptible to blowing over because they have more mass for the wind to push against. For these trees, the wind is blowing more against them than through them. Reducing the mass in the crown to help prevent blowing over is a major reason to keep deciduous trees pruned properly.
• Leaning. Trees that are leaning from previous winds or other factors will be more likely to blow over. If you have leaning trees, take precautions if their falling could create damage.
• Restricted root areas. Trees planted in small areas, such as between a sidewalk and curb, often have little space for their roots to spread and take good hold underground. That can increase likelihood of falling. When selecting trees for tight areas, get professional advice on varieties that are best suited to a small growing space.
• Slopes. Trees planted on slopes that lean away from the wind are also more susceptible to blowing over. Be aware of risks if trees on slopes could fall on buildings or other property. When planting on slopes, take this factor into account.
Need help assessing the turf and trees in your yard?
Find a professional among ALCC’s members located in six chapters statewide.
Courtesy of Associated Landscape Contractors of Colorado and Neils Lunceford, a landscaping company based in Silverthorne that is a member. You may contact them at (970) 468-0340.